Wedding Garbs in the Late 1800s

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Look closely at the photo above. These two wedding gowns seem to illustrate the era in that something is about to take place. In a fashion sense, it is the death of the bustle and the birth of a new silhouette. In socio-politics, it was the era when nations vied to take over the position of a new superpower.

War broke out eventually and culminated in the victory of the New World and a shift in social norms; women started working alongside men outside their homes and demanding equality, and the freedom movement where women demanded to break free from the shackles of long skirts and bustles.

wedding gown in 1800s

This gown for example has a full skirt that is made fuller with a hooped petticoat underneath. The garb will also have a train that is slightly longer than the casual dresses in their time. To note, the train signifies class distinction. Only the elite class wear a casual day dress with trains while commoners will wear it only on special occasions such as a wedding.

The elite class will have a much longer train and more elaborately decorated garments at their wedding. The decorations were handmade, mostly embroidery, and usually take a lot of hours of work therefore it will cost a lot. Only the most affluent will be able to afford blown glass beads from France to decorate their garments. The couturier will have to wait months for supplies to arrive.

wedding gown 2

But in the next two decades later, styles started evolving, and the bustle lost its prestige. The A-line cut and princess-seamed dresses started surfacing in the 1900s with much thinner and more fluid materials like the chiffon. Here we see the bride wearing a slimmer dress with softer details.

And two more decades later, Paul Poiret will change the way women dress up forever with a silhouette that will become the precursor of modern fashion.

By the 1920s, a leaner silhouette became the trend. Wedding gowns in this era have a straight shape and are mostly bias cut without a cut in the waist. Sheath dress, they call it, which falls a few inches above the ankle was the preferred cut. It was a rebellious shift from the overly exaggerated length and weight.

Designers look at fashion in a more vertical line approach than volume. This concept was carried on still many years later as we progressed into the Industrial Age.

Nowadays, we do have a taste of those styles. Some brides still prefer a ball gown with petticoats because it gives an extra uniquity to the event itself. And why not?

If you were to revive a silhouette in the past, what era would you prefer?

By Jonquil Dun

Photo credit: Getty Images

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